Directed by Matt Wolf (USA, 2019, 87 min.). Digital.
Marion Stokes was secretly recording television 24 hours a day for 30 years. She started in 1979, with the Iranian Hostage Crisis at the dawn of the 24-hour news cycle. Recording stopped on December 14, 2012, as Marion passed away while coverage of the Sandy Hook Massacre played on her TV. In between, Marion filled 70,000 VHS tapes with revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials—everything a statement on who we are, all of it showing how television shaped the world of today.
Before the rise of “fake news,” Marion fought to protect the truth by archiving everything that was said and shown on television. Unknown to the public, TV networks had been throwing decades of their archives into the trashcan of history. Remarkably, Marion saved it. Now the Internet Archive is digitizing her tapes, allowing the public to be able to search them for free online.
Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project is a mystery in the form of a time capsule. It’s about a radical Communist activist, who became a fabulously wealthy recluse archivist. Marion’s work was obsessive, but it was also genius, and she paid a profound price for dedicating her life to this visionary and maddening project.